What is the process for making plastic?

I know that plastic bags are made from petropolymers, but what goes into the process?
I am doing a term paper about plastic pollution in the oceans and its effects.



  1. 0 Votes

    I found a website with an excellent step-by-step explanation of how plastics are derived from petroleum.  While there are other plastics out there made from organic compounds or other sources, petroleum based plastics are what you will see the vast majority of the time.  Here is how they explain it:

    1.  Petroleum is drilled and transported to a refinery.

    2.  Crude oil and natural gas are refined into ethane, propane, hundreds of other petrochemical products and, of course, fuel for your car.

    3.  Ethane and propane are “cracked” into ethylene and propylene, using high-temperature furnaces.

    4.  Catalyst is combined with ethylene or propylene in a reactor, resulting in “fluff,” a powdered material (polymer) resembling laundry detergent.

    5.  Fluff is combined with additives in a continuous blender.

    6.  Polymer is fed to an extruder where it is melted.

    7.  Melted plastic is cooled then fed to a pelletizer that cuts the product into small       pellets.

    8.  Pellets are shipped to customers.

    9.  Customers manufacture plastic products by using processes such as extrusion, injection molding, blow molding, etc.

    Hope that answers your question!

  2. 0 Votes

    The raw materials for early plastics were derived from cellulose or coal tar. Over time, petroleum and also natural gas became the chief sources instead.

    How Stuff Works offers another breakdown of how manufacturers refine these substances and subject them to chemical reactions.

    There are numerous ways the resulting material may be then be formed into products. See here for visual examples.

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